When You Suddenly Forget How to Write

Wiser writers have said that you never write two books the same way and I’ve realized this year more than ever how true that is. Drafting the second book in the Ash Princess series was one of the hardest things I’ve done even though Ash Princess itself came out somewhat easily. I knew the characters and the world right away and the voice just appeared one day out of thin air. It stands to reason that all of these things would be even more set when I started writing book two but that was…not the case. At all.

Now, I’m working on another book outside of that series and it’s a whole new experience. I’ve never been one to adhere too tightly to a structure but in this new project structure has been mandatory. We’re talking index cards and three act structures WITHIN three act structures. I’ve never been much of a free writer either, but suddenly my notebook was overflowing with daily free writes that took up pages and pages and delved deep into character arcs and relationship dynamics and world building. And it’s working in a way it probably wouldn’t have if I’d tried to write Ash Princess or its sequel the same way.

I’m attaching links to strategies that other writers have given, though it’s worth pointing out that these bits of advice were made to be adapted and adjusted as needed. So whether you’re a pantser or a planner or fluctuating somewhere in between like me, I hope you’ll find them helpful.

My go-to is Susan Dennard’s website. The Witchlands series author has written on just about everything authors need to know from coming up with ideas to the steps taken in traditional publishing. My favorite posts are the entire ‘How I Plan a Book’ series, but this post on the importance of Magical Cookies specifically, this post about productivity, and this post about endings. In all honesty, though, I could get lost on Susan’s site for hours on end.

I’ve fallen down a bit of a rabbit hole lately with the three act structure and one of the most helpful resources I’ve found has been Alexandra Sokoloff’s website. For the uninitiated, the three act structure is most commonly used in film but it’s a great way to craft compelling, page turning plots. Here is a practical dissection of the structure using Harry Potter. Interested in trying it out for yourself? This is a great intro post, about using this method with index cards and here is a list of common story elements that can be very helpful in figuring out what happens where in the plot.

And last but not least, one of the widest-reaching resources available for writers is Pub Crawl. If you aren’t familiar, you’re going to want to go ahead and bookmark it. The archives are full of just about every kind of post you could hope for–writing, plotting, editing, querying. It’s all just a click away with plenty of guest posts by some very familiar names. Here’s a post from Leigh Bardugo on coming up with ideas. Another post from Alexandra Bracken on handling criticism. One from Adam Silvera about the between book. This recent post from Patrice Caldwell about balancing a full time job with writing is one of my favorites, and not just because she talks about our lovely weekend writing group. It’s a virtual treasure trove of wonders, really.

What are your favorite online writing resources?


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